Is Chewing Gum Safe for My Teeth?

Blonde woman blows a pink gum bubble against a yellow background

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about whether or not gum is good for your teeth, but we want to set the record straight—especially since the answer isn’t quite as simple as you might think.

The Sugar Problem

One of the biggest culprits behind many oral health issues is sugar. These days, many foods and beverages contain large amounts of added sugar that bad oral bacteria feed upon. Well-fed bacteria accumulate into a sticky film of plaque, which irritates and inflames gums. But plaque not only increases your risk of gum disease, it produces acids and toxins that damage tooth enamel and cause decay. Chewing gum that contains sugar is bad for your teeth, as its sticky sugar feeds this plaque bacteria. We recommend avoiding sugary gum for optimal oral health. Fortunately, not all gum contains sugar!

Sugar-Free Gum

Although sugar is commonly found in gum, there are plenty of brands that make satisfying sugar-free gum. In fact, chewing sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after eating can help stimulate the production of salvia and rinse your mouth of leftover food particles and bacteria. Additionally, there is a type of sugar-free sweetener found in some gums, called xylitol, with properties that may help reduce the accumulation of bad oral bacteria.

Benefits of Chewing Sugar-Free Gum

Aside from helping to rinse your mouth, chewing sugar-free gum is a good way to curb your appetite between meals and freshen your breath. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t chew too much gum if you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) or any other kind of jaw pain. Let us know if you experience any pain while chewing–we can help find an appropriate treatment!

Can Chewing Gum Replace Preventive Dental Care?

Chewing sugar-free gum is not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, and it’s certainly not a substitute for twice-yearly dental checkups. But if you’re a fan of chewing gum, know that it’s totally safe, and even beneficial, for your teeth if it’s sugar-free.

Reach Out to Heritage Dental in Katy, TX!

If you have any questions about how to achieve and maintain a healthy smile, or if you’re due for a cleaning and exam, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team at Heritage Dental. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Interesting Facts About Teeth

Brunette woman smiles as she holds a magnifying glass up to her teeth against a blue wall

At Heritage Dental, we won’t hesitate to tell you that we love everything about teeth! If you’re interested in learning some interesting facts about human teeth, animal teeth, and the history of dentistry, we’ve got them for you right here.

Teeth & Oral Hygiene Facts

Did You Know?

  • Just like a fingerprint, each tooth has an individual shape and size that is unique to each person. This is one reason that forensic dentists are sometimes called to the scene of crimes or disasters to help identify victims and perpetrators.
  • Tooth enamel is the hardest material in the human body! Although your enamel is incredibly durable, it can erode, crack, and chip. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush your teeth, to wear a nightguard if you grind your teeth, and to avoid jaw breakers, chewing ice, and opening packaging with your teeth.
  • If you brush your teeth for the recommended twice a day for two minutes each time, you’ll only spend a little over 1 day brushing your teeth each year. That’s a small amount of time to maintain a smile that is healthy and beautiful!
  • Although there are exceptions, right-handed people tend to prefer chewing on the right side of their mouths, while left-handed people tend to like chewing on the left side.

Animal Teeth Facts

Did You Know?

  • Giraffes have no front teeth on their upper jaw! They have a hard palate at the top jaw line with molars in the back.
  • While humans only have 28-32 adult teeth, certain species of snails can have over 25,000 teeth.
  • An elephant can grow six sets of molars in a lifetime. These teeth can weigh over 6 pounds each!
  • Some animals act like dentists and dental hygienists for their neighbors. For example, when a Nile crocodile waits with its mouth open, an Egyptian plover bird often stops for a snack by picking at and cleaning the crocodile’s teeth. After performing this service, the bird leaves unharmed.

Interesting Facts About Dental History

Did You know?

  • Early toothbrushes were made of twigs that our ancestors chewed on.
  • The first recorded “dentist”, named Hesi-Ra, lived in Egypt thousands of years ago.
  • Ancient Greeks used tooth powders made of unusual ingredients, like pumice and talc, to clean their teeth.
  • Though Emeline Roberts Jones began practicing at her husband’s dental practice in 1855 after teaching herself basic fillings and extractions, Lucy Beaman Hobbs became the first female dentist with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1866.

Modern Dental Care in Katy, TX

As you can see, teeth are as unique as they are important. We are lucky to live in a time with so many available options for modern, affordable, and comfortable dental care. Here at Heritage Dental, we strive to help each of our patients have a stress-free and enjoyable visit with us. We provide sedation dentistry, office-wide Wi-Fi, an internet station, complimentary refreshments, amenities for kids, pillows, blankets, TVs in our private treatment rooms, and comprehensive dental services. Contact us to schedule your next cleaning and checkup!

Dental Sedation FAQ

Brunette woman leans calmly back on a couch as she relaxes

At Heritage Dental, we understand that dental anxiety is a real and serious problem for many patients. That’s why offer sedation options for those that are sensitive to pain or who get nervous or fearful before and during dental appointments. If you have questions about sedation and what to expect, we have the answers here.

What Is Dental Sedation?

Dental sedation is the general term used to describe medication that helps to soothe the nerves and/or numb pain during dental treatment. At our Katy dental office, we offer a few different types of sedation to suit the needs of our patients.

What Types of Sedation Are Available?

Nitrous oxide, known commonly as “laughing gas”, is one such option we offer. It is a sweet-smelling gas that produces a euphoric, calming sensation when inhaled. The effects wear off within minutes, making it safe for children and adults. Oral-conscious sedation refers to a pill taken prior to the appointment that reduces anxiety, allowing the patient to be relaxed during their dental visit. Finally, an innovative advancement in dentistry called the Wand gradually delivers anesthesia to create a gentle numbing sensation.

What Are the Effects of Sedation?

With nitrous oxide, the effects wear off very quickly. But it can take a little more time for the effects of oral conscious sedation and the Wand to wear off and have full feeling restored in the mouth and your full mental faculties. When you’re preparing for your appointment or procedure, ask us about what to expect for your specific circumstance and whether we recommend having someone drive you home.

Woman with a mask over her nose inhaling nitrous oxide dental sedation

Who Can Use It?

Children can safely use nitrous oxide, and we recommend all three options for adults, depending on their needs and health history.

How Can I Get It?

Ask us at your next appointment which dental sedation option may be best for you. We can help you choose an effective and safe sedation option for your situation, and will walk you through how you can prepare to receive dental sedation.

Receive Calming Dental Sedation at Heritage Dental!

If you have additional questions about our dental sedation options for you or a family member, contact us today. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have to put your mind at ease and to help your next dental appointment be as stress-free as possible.

Affordable Dental Care in Katy, TX

A pink piggy bank against a pink background used for saving money from affordable dental care at Heritage Dental

At Heritage Dental, we believe no one should avoid seeing the dentist because of financial concern. That’s why we strive to offer affordable payment options to meet any patient’s needs. So if you’ve been wondering about how to make sure your family have healthy teeth while not breaking the bank, we have solutions for you!

Your Health Is Worth the Investment

Your oral health is just as important as the health of your entire body. By putting off fixing dental issues like cavities, infections, or loose teeth, you risk bigger problems down the line. We can almost guarantee that allowing problems to worsen will only require more money, inconvenience, and pain in the future. For the sake of your health and that of your family, make routine dental care a priority.

How You Can Afford Great Dental Care

Many patients think that the only way to see a dentist is with dental insurance. Although we are proud to accept many forms of dental insurance, in addition to Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), a lack of coverage or gaps in coverage can create obstacles for some patients. For this reason, we offer a highly discounted Dental Savers Plan.

Our In-House Dental Savers Plan

At Heritage Dental, you don’t have to put off caring for your dental health due to poor coverage. When you sign up for our in-house Dental Savers Plan, you’ll receive the best in dental care for a low annual rate of $99 for individuals and $249 for families with children under 18 years old. This plan includes free X-rays and check-ups, and provides significant discounts on other services, such as cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatments, fillings, root canal therapy, and dentures.

Receive Affordable Dental Care at Heritage Dental!

At our Katy dental practice, we work closely with our patients to ensure that they are able to afford the treatment they need. In addition to many dental insurance plans, we accept most major debit and credit cards and CareCreditSM. Contact us today if you have questions about how to finance dental care for your family or would like to enroll in our in-house Dental Savers Plan!

The Role Genetics Plays in Your Smile

A multigenerational family that shares genetics smiles while embracing on a couch

Our genes have a lot to do with our health. They can determine so many things, from our hair color and height, to our susceptibility to certain diseases, and to a certain extent, the health and appearance of our smile. In this blog post, we’ll explore how your genetics can affect your smile.

Smile Appearance

One aspect of your smile often impacted by genetics is its appearance. For example, you can inherit a certain color of teeth, crooked teeth, or a misaligned jaw. Fortunately, many discoloration issues can be corrected with professional teeth whitening. Additionally, malocclusion, crowding, overbites, and gaps can all be a product of genetics and are remedied only by professionally applied orthodontics.

Oral Cancer Risk

As with many cancers, your risk for oral cancer is often higher if someone in your family has had it. This does not mean that only people with a genetic link are at risk, though. There are a variety of other risk factors, such as diet, tobacco and alcohol use, and others.

Gum Disease & Tooth Decay

Preliminary research suggests that cavities and gingivitis may also be linked to your genes, with certain genes making you more susceptible to these oral issues. However, a bad luck of the draw in the genetics department doesn’t mean that you are doomed to suffer from these tooth-wreckers. Rather than lay the blame for decay and gum inflammation on bad genes and call it a day, be proactive. For those that may be predisposed to gum disease and cavities, it’s best to be diligent about your oral care. Brush and floss daily, limit your consumption of sugary foods and beverages, drink plenty of water, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, and come visit Heritage Dental every six months.

Top Quality Dental Care at Heritage Dental

Good genes or bad, we can all do better at caring for the health of our teeth and gums. Our friendly team is here to help you establish and maintain healthy oral care habits. If it’s been a while since your last checkup, contact us so we can examine your mouth for potential issues, like cavities, gum disease, and misalignment. We look forward to seeing you soon!

What Are the Benefits of Professional Teeth Whitening?

Blonde woman in a white blouse smiles after receiving professional teeth whitening in Katy, TX at Heritage Dental

If you could have the smile of your dreams, what would it look like? A bright, white smile can boost your confidence and make you look years younger. Many of our patients at Heritage Dental tell us they’re embarrassed about stains or a yellowish tint to their teeth, which is why we’re proud to offer professional teeth whitening services at our Katy dental office.

You Don’t Need to Wait Long for a Whiter Smile

Don’t waste another day hiding your smile because you don’t like the appearance of your teeth. Dr. Nguyen uses the KöR® Whitening Deep Bleaching™ system to whiten your teeth by 16 shades or more in as little as two weeks. Other systems may require months of use before you see any results.

Get the Perfect Fit

Unlike whitening products you can buy at the drugstore, the KöR method uses trays that are custom-created to fit your teeth. This limits the chance of your saliva diluting the bleaching gel and makes the treatment more effective.

Avoid Tooth Sensitivity

Because our KöR bleaching treatment is professionally administered, much of the tooth sensitivity associated with store-bought whitening treatments is avoided. In fact, our patients who use KöR whitening say they experience little to no sensitivity during treatment. It is the gentlest whitening system available!

Achieve Beautiful Teeth Inside & Out at Heritage Dental!

While a whitening treatment you buy at the drugstore or grocery store may temporarily whiten the outer layer of your teeth, the benefit of the KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching system is that it safely, quickly, and effectively whitens your teeth, inside and out. Oxygen in the whitening gel absorbs deep into your tooth to dissolve and remove stain molecules. This results in a deeper, more lasting treatment that will leave you feeling confident to show off your new smile in all its glory! To ask our team any questions about improving the look of your smile or to schedule a cosmetic dentistry consultation, contact our office today.

Common Dental Crown Problems

Dark-haired man wearing a gray shirt sits by a white pillar and looks concerned about common dental crown problems

After getting a crown, the goal is that your tooth is completely repaired and all will be well, right? But the dental crown process is just the beginning of restoring your tooth! It’s important to keep your crown clean and to monitor it for any abnormal changes or discomfort. In this article, we’ll give an overview of common dental crown problems to watch out for.

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay doesn’t damage the crown itself since it is made of artificial material. However, decay can erode the tooth beneath it and compromise the anchoring of the dental crown. For the decay to be cleaned out, the crown must be removed. To avoid this, brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each session using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoridated toothpaste. Additionally, floss at least once a day and keep up with your regular dental cleanings.

2. Sensitivity

Some people with crowns suffer from discomfort or sensitive teeth when they consume very hot or cold foods or beverages. If this is true for you, you should have it examined as soon as possible. It’s possible the crown has come loose and is not completely covering your tooth. Until it can be looked at, try brushing with an anti-sensitivity toothpaste to reduce your feeling of sensitivity.

3. Pain

After getting a crown, your gums may be a little sore as the crown settles. This swelling is temporary and should resolve soon. But if you experience intense pain or discomfort, especially if it lasts for several days or longer than a week, let us know. The biting surface of your crown may need to be adjusted, you may need a mouthguard for undiagnosed teeth grinding, or you may need root canal therapy.

4. Dark Lines

Dark lines may show up on porcelain crowns infused with metal. Some may find this aesthetically unappealing, but it’s nothing to worry about. The darkness is simply the crown’s metal. However, if you want, it can be replaced with an all-ceramic or all-porcelain crown.

Consult with Our Expert Team

If you are experiencing any crown-related problems, give us a call here at Heritage Dental to set up an appointment with Dr. Nguyen!

Are Dental Procedures Tax Deductible?

A pink piggy bank holds a one dollar bill on a brown counter against a white wall

It’s tax time! As you look back on your yearly expenses, be sure to consider whether you can deduct any dental procedures and expenses for 2018. Here is a brief and helpful guide according to Internal Revenue Service’s policies:

How to Deduct Dental Procedures

Although the IRS recognizes medical and dental expenses as tax deductible, there are a few conditions:

1. You must be eligible to file using an itemized tax form.

This is the only way to deduct medical and dental expenses.

2. You may only deduct expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income annually.

This means that if you made $100,000 in 2018, the eligible amount you can deduct for medical and dental expenses must exceed $7,500. Any amount under that does not apply.

3. The expenses incurred must be from you, your spouse, or your dependents.

Anyone who does not fit this description cannot be counted toward itemized deductions for medical and dental expenses.

4. Prescription medications related to dental treatment are deductible.

The medications must have been prescribed for dental purposes.

5. Only necessary dental and medical procedures are considered tax deductible.

This includes cleanings, fillings, X-rays, extractions, other surgeries, and braces. It does not include cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening and porcelain veneers.

6. Only unreimbursed expenses are considered deductible.

This means that if your dental insurance company or any third party covered or partially covered any dental expenses, only the out-of-pocket cost to you is considered deductible. And remember, that amount must exceed 7.5% of your AGI.

Consult with Our Team!

Please call our office if you have any questions about treatments or services you had done in 2018. We are happy to help so that you can file your expenses accurately. Or if it’s time for your biannual checkup and cleaning, schedule your next appointment today.

Fun Holiday Dental Related Gifts People Will Love

Closeup of a cluster of holiday gifts wrapped in red, brown, and white paper for Christmas

Looking for some fun holiday dental related gifts that people will love to find wrapped up or in their stocking? Here are some of our favorite gift ideas:

1. Denture Ice Cube Trays

Denture ice cube trays are for making ice cubes that are shaped like dentures! This hilarious gift is perfect for the jokester on your list. These are also a perfect gag gift for someone who hit a big milestone birthday and may be feeling a little over the hill. You’ve probably seen these in novelty shops, but you can also buy them online or in big box stores.

2. Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes are a great way to show someone that you care about their oral health! Make sure to select one with a built-in two minute timer and pressure sensor. You could even personalize the electric toothbrush by getting it in the recipient’s favorite color. Throwing in a few extra replacement brush heads will also ensure the recipient has a stock of fresh brush heads every 3 months for optimal oral health.

3. Novelty Toothpaste

From pickle to cupcake, bacon to ginger mint, there are a number of fun novelty toothpaste flavors. Select a special flavor for each person on your list–whether it’s their favorite food or their least favorite. You can find these wacky toothpastes online or in specialty stores.

4. Travel Essentials & Toothbrush Cover

For the globetrotters, a gift of travel-size dental items can save them valuable space in their suitcase. Moreover, to make traveling with their toothbrush more fun, find a cool toothbrush head cover so they can protect their toothbrush from germs in an enjoyable way. There are abundant options for toothbrush head covers, including bright colors, animals like owls and unicorns, emoji smiley faces, and even cartoon characters.

5. Toothbrush with a Favorite Character

For the little ones on your list, a simple dental-related gift idea is a toothbrush with their favorite character on it. From princesses to cars, Barbies to Spongebob, there are toothbrushes out there with every character under the sun and under the sea. You can find them at your local drugstore or even online. It’s sure to put a smile on your child’s face.

Happy Holidays From Heritage Dental!

We wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday. Contact us for additional ways to help your loved ones have superb oral health.

Are Floss Picks Better Than String Floss?

A blue container of floss with a white tooth icon on it and a blue string of floss coming out

Flossing daily is a necessary step in effectively keeping your teeth clean and strong. It removes particles of food that get caught in between teeth. While this might not sound harmful, bacteria feed off of these leftovers, accumulate into a sticky film called plaque, and produce enamel-damaging acids that lead to decay and sensitive teeth. Plaque also irritates and inflames gums, causing gum disease. This is why we stress the importance of cleaning in between teeth. Many of our patients have asked if it’s OK to use a floss pick instead of string floss. Read on to learn the difference between these two flossing products so you can make a decision about which one is best for your smile!

String Floss

Flossing with traditional dental floss is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. You can buy this product unwaxed or waxed in a variety of flavors. It is usually sold in a plastic container with a flip lid, which makes it easier to distribute. For best use, pull out about 18 inches of string, wind it around your middle fingers, and glide a new part of the floss in between each pair of teeth. Gently scrape each tooth’s surface one by one to remove food particles and debris. We recommend flossing before brushing if possible, so that you can then sweep away all particles that may have become loose.

Floss Picks

Floss picks, most commonly in an “F” shape, have a plastic handle and about an inch of string between two rods. The problem with picks is that because they contain far less string, you are essentially cleaning different teeth with the same bit of string over and over again. This redistributes the bacteria from in between teeth, rather than just transferring it completely to the floss. For this reason, we don’t feel that floss picks are an adequate substitute for string floss. However, they are a quick solution for on-the-go flossing.

So Which Is Better?

We want you to do your best to make sure you’re cleaning in between your teeth every day. Although we recommend traditional string floss as your go-to for daily oral hygiene, floss picks can be handy for travel or on-the-go moments. But we’d rather you clean your teeth with picks than not floss at all!

We Look Forward to Seeing Your Smile!

Remember that we are here to help you have outstanding oral health. Please let us know if you have any questions about which dental products are best for your unique smile. And if you’re ready to schedule an appointment for your next cleaning, contact our team today.